Shine on, you Crazy Diamond

Syd Barrett

In an earlier post, I had compared the use of the drug LSD to symptoms of the mental illness schizophrenia, and how the two can relate.  The connection between this disease and illicit substance is best illustrated through the life of former Pink Floyd member and founder, Syd Barrett (1946-2006).

Interestingly enough, the unique sound of the band Pink Floyd is often attributed to Barrett and his drug obsessed lifestyle, but too often do people forget that he only had a short stay with the band, lasting fewer than ten years.

Rock and roll never seems to mix well with drugs, and all too often do bands get split apart because of addiction.  In Barrett’s case, however, the problem was not any sort of addiction (while a drug, there is no addictive quality to acid itself, though some people rely on the hallucinations produced to a point that they mimic an addict).  As the band progressed, Barrett began to act eccentric, skipping rehearsals and constantly showing up late to concerts, as though he was unaware of the band’s existence.  One night, the members of Pink Floyd simply chose to go on without Syd, replacing him with their newest member David Gilmour.  Barrett hardly seemed to notice.

Barrett’s musical career was far from over, however.  He had many solo albums, each seeming more trippy and otherworldly than the last.  Eventually, it became evident Barrett was suffering from a mental breakdown when he was hospitalized.  It was not too long after when he was a diagnosed schizophrenic.  The cause was proven to be the result of his drug abusive past, and the effects were irreversible.

Barrett’s last public appearance was in the Abbey Road music studio during the recording of Pink Floyd’s album Wish You Were Here.  Barrett had gained a great deal of weight, shaved off all hair on his face (head, facial hair, eyebrows) and spoke in incoherent ramblings.  The band members, shocked at what they saw, produced three recordings in memory of their old friend: Shine On You Crazy Diamond Pt. 1 & 2, and the song that would later provide the name for the album.

A great mind is truly a terrible thing to waste.

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1 Comment

  1. OK…this definitely would have frightened the 3rd graders! I was never a Pink Floyd fan…college roommates overplayed him!
    Where is your blogging technology?


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